RIP point-and-shoot cameras

Coming back from vacations and a couple of further appointments!!

Nice shots, thought they were not the main purpose of the trip, I hope I find the time to work on them soon!

Sunset at Lake Garda (camera phone shot: Cris da Rocha)

Sunset at Lake Garda (Phone camera shot: Cris da Rocha)

While traveling, as usual, one thing caught my attention, was the number of point-and-shoot cameras being used by the tourists. Basically I could count in the finger of ONE hand (including the one my son was using in the trip!!!). Everybody is either using the camera on their phones and tablets, though I haven’t seen that may tablets this time, or using dSLRs.

The number of point-and-shoot cameras have been dropping in the last years, I spoke about it frequently, but this time, definitively they are a dead market!! Apart from some more advanced models that allow you to manually control the parameters, some even shoot in raw, the only thing you get that is not in a phone is optical zoom capability. On the other hand, you have to carry yet another device with you, to take pretty much the same pictures. This situation tends to get even worse now with the latest phones coming with multiple lenses (like the iPhone 7 or the Huawei P9).

The other side of that story is the increase of dSLRs on the streets, specially the small entry level ones (unless is a Japanese group, then Canon 5D Mark III with L lenses are more common than phone cameras🙂 ). Even more interesting is the fact that those entry level dSLRs are in the hands of young people, so a new generation that likes well done images, not the “let me post a selfie in Instagram”).

What was quite rare to see was Micro Four Thirds cameras. I would expect to see them more frequently, now that they are improving in quality and variety of brands and lens offer, but not really. At least not yet.

Bottom line, vacations are still, and more and more, a situation where you go out at the worst possible light and have loads of people taking pictures in front of you. Enjoy and have fun!!

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Adobe, again??

Short post about the latest update on Lightroom (2015.6).

Lightroom CC/6

Lightroom CC/6

Again, in less than one year, Adobe managed to disrupt our workflow.

Lightroom, for me, is by far the best tool in the market. Does 95% of what I need to work on my images, from organizing to developing and is affordable.

Not long ago we had this very bugged version, that really had to be rolled back. Now they seem to have done it a milder version of it.

I started working in the new version and had the impression I had a very, but very old computer with me. Even changing to the next image was slow. Adjustment brush lagging behind the cursor, sliders taking a while to respond, it was really scary!

Started Googling and realized I was not the only one to have problems like this. A poor man’s consolation, but at least I’ve see it wasn’t my computer what had a problem, or something. Some of the comments were about the video driver. So, let’s update it. That becomes a problem when your graphics card was just declared as “LEGACY” by the manufacturer. So, last driver ever to it. Obviously those things, that are supposed to take 2 minutes, take you the whole evening.

At the end, the update worked, some how, but the problem was not solved. The whole thing was more responsive, I know the graphics card is not supposed to play with anything but the adjustment brush, but believe me … but the adjustment brush was still running on a 386 … Disabled the graphics acceleration and things got better.

I’ll get back to working on new images those days and I’ll be able to confirm if things are better, of if I’ll have to roll it back, as last year.

Adobe already promising a bug fix, but I really would like to have a tested version before delivery, instead of post-mortem bug fixed.

Anyway … be aware of that before you upgrade.

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The Moment it Clicks

When reading an art book, I’m surely not a fast reader, but just finished reading another one.

Joe McNally - The Moment it Clicks

Joe McNally – The Moment it Clicks

The book was “The Moment it Clicks“, written by the fantastic National Geographic photographer Joe McNally. The book has a very interesting format, one photo, one story. McNally tells the story of his career, through his images and the stories related to them.

From shooting celebrities (James Brown, Sophia Loren, Michelle Pfeiffer, … you name it) to the top of the Empire State Building (literally, where the red lamp is), McNally describes the rights, wrongs and unexpected situations he encountered and how, at the end, he managed to leave with an amazing image.

The book is full of advice and knowledge, technical and life lessons. McNally shows the difference between an image that simply shows something, and an great image that satisfies the client and amazes the viewer. Manipulating light and transforming the scenes into something that, though not its usual appearance, conveys the message in its best way.

One of the stories (life lesson style) that doesn’t leave my mind anymore is the one when the beginner McNally does a very good job and his editor calls it an “attaboy”, but reminds him that “It only takes one ‘aw, shit’ to wipe out three ‘attaboys'”. Works for everything, for every job. Your wrongs count more that your rights.

McNally also gives a chapter on lighting tips and a great list of gear.

A book really worth reading!

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How good should we be?

Posting frequency has been a bit “infrequent” (let’s call it like this). Yep, the project I mentioned a couple of times is taking a lot of time and also work be being quite overwhelming.


A bit of a philosophical moment. A couple of week ago I was reading a photography website and they were talking about feeling stuck versus evolving your craft. While reading that, I started to locate myself in this scenario. My photography is not evolving as I would like, but how much effort am I really putting into it. Well, to be honest, recently not much.

Then you start reading about this photographer (a generic and quite frequent one) that got his first camera 5 years ago (around the time I came back to photography) and now runs a successful business in the area, and go like “WHAT?? Why can’t I do that???”.

Well, to be very plain and simple, because this person probably dedicated quite an amount of time to the craft, that I didn’t. For a variety of reason: family constraints, work constraints, real will to become a professional and so on. In my case, I have a two small kids at home, with the whole package of problems that comes from raising kids away from your family, trying two develop multiple work fronts at the same time, having learnt pretty much 3 new professions in the last 5 years. One can’t do it all. It’s just not possible.

In previous year I have sacrificed a whole artistic and sportive side of my life to focus on the career I chose. Got a Ph.D. in the field, worked hard, but then life changes the winds and you have to adjust the sails and keep on going. So, you not always get where you planned, but you always get somewhere.

The other side of this story, reinforced by marketers and entrepreneurs like Seth Godin and Richard Branson, is that you’ll only succeed on something, if you try it and if you try, you’ll probably fail, more than once, until you get it right. But it’s not like, go trying things randomly until one of them sticks, like a lot of people prefers to think. It requires dedication and effort, nothing worth having comes easy. Apparently there’s no way around the 10,000 hours of practice “law”.

On my side, I’m trying to get my act together, organize myself so I can do most of the things I like, but never neglecting attention to the family. Kids only grow once, you can either be part of it, or be an spectator, I rather be part of it.

Once you organize your time, prioritize your activities, inspiration will come back and those things will re-flourish. You’ll feel like getting your camera more often, editing your images more often, riding your bike more often, reading your books more often. If some of them don’t come back, oh well, it was a nice ride, but now sits in the past, so let it there. Enjoy the things you do and try to do them as well as you want to do them, otherwise is just more pressure and the fun goes away defeating the whole purpose.

In a nutshell, have fun!

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Class photos for our school

Again, another small break, this time due to getting a virus infection. Now recovered, so back to photographs!

This year I was suppose to take the class pictures of my son’s school.

Class Photo

The compulsory invitation (wife is part of the parents council) came early in the fall, when it was already too cold for having the kids outside, to use natural light, and be able to identify them (not the jacket + hat combo). One option was to rent some strobes and softboxes, which would cost quite some money to the school, and the other option was to wait for spring and have the kids outside. For obvious reasons, the “wait for spring” option was the chosen one.

So the project got put on hold, but spring never really came!! We tried to schedule it a couple of times and had it cancelled the day before due to weather, then getting sick, and finally last week we made it!

Since they are 12 classes, and sun shines in front of the school after mid morning, we had them split in two days. The first one was quite sunny and sun (and the kids would leave for their morning break). Some more strict border patrol would have made me notice a sign behind the kids before the first class came around, not after photographing two classes (I know, shame on me – a lot of photoshop action to make this sign vanish). At night I already noticed I would have to zoom in a bit more. The second day, despite the forecast, ended up being a cloudy morning, with drops falling around. We decided to go ahead anyway.

Some things to look at. First, it would have been impossible without my wife assisting me. While I was at the camera, on one side of the patio, she was positioning the kids at the other side of it, making sure they don’t cover themselves. It all went fine, but there’s always some kids that move and hide themselves, or someone else. I took several images, hoping for positioning and eyes. Even used the trick of “close your eyes and open them when I count to three!!”. Still had to photoshop some opened eyes🙂

Definitely the worst part are the camera clowns. In one of the cases, the kid made faces the whole time, the one time this kid has a “normal” face, all others look terrible (already tired of standing and so on). Sorry for this kid’s parents, but they’ll have a picture of their kid making a weird face (they probably already know it).

The school front is a big glass windows. Across the patio there are trees, being illuminated by the morning sun, meaning they were reflecting quite a lot in the glass windows and conflicting with the kids in the image. So I would need to mute those reflections. It’s got even more evident in the second day, when there was no shiny trees and the reflections are quite good.

Usual post processing in Lightroom, darkening and reducing highlights for the tree reflections, jumping to photoshop for eyes and removing some rain drops that crossed in front of the kids, some Nik Color Efex Pro (now free) to finish it and a little frame with school logo, class and teachers name. I hope those kids have a good memory of this school year, and hopefully with a nice class photo!!

In summary: get someone to assist, use different focal lengths, strict border patrol on what’s in the image, specially behind the kids, make several pictures, so you have eyes and expressions evolving with time, don’t take picture with rain drops🙂 and get the kids relaxed.

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